Sunday, February 27, 2005

Weekend: Battle Cry

Battle Cry was bought to give me something to play with the other son, Eitan.

Battle Cry is a light wargame. No, it is not anything like a Euro-game, unlike, say, Wallenstein, which has Euro game elements mixed with wargaming elements. Nothing Euro about this one.

BC's biggest assets are threefold: a) beautiful components, including the miniature pieces, the board and the rulebook, which contains lots of history and explanation for each actual scenario being re-created (15 in all). b) Easily set up and customizable game board, with a big hex board, and lots of hex obstacle pieces, like trees and houses. After playing the real scenarios, you can make your own ahistorical ones, thereby giving a weaker player an advantage. c) quick playtime, running at about an hour I would guess for most scenarios.

One item that some may consider an asset I deliberately left out: simple and simplistic rules. The rules are simple, but, unfortunately, way too simple. The entire game rules is about 5 pages including large type and pictures. Basically:

1) Play a card from your hand indicating which 1, 2, or 3 divisions can attack from a particular flank (L, M, R).

2) Move the divisions.

3) Attack with the divisions. Roll a number of dice, one less for each hex distance, and one more if you have a general with you.

4) Pick a new card.

Some extras:

- Line of sight must be considered, but it is simplistic and not always sensible. For instance, an infantry division on a hill does not have line of sight over another division at the bottom of a hill.

- Being within an obstacle gives a reduction in the number of dice rolled by your opponent.

- The object of the game is always to eliminate 6 enemy divisions and/or generals.

The choices in how they simplified were just bad choices. Way too much was cut, leaving a rather dull game without many elements that would seem rather obvious, such as shooting first at something charging you, charging altogether, moving with cover, etc...

The other problem is that the game is not really good for Euro gamers, as it is a war game, plain and simple. But for war- gamers, it is so simplistic that it is lacking. Your opponent gets no attacks on you during your turn. You can run from obstacle to obstacle and attack with impunity. All sorts of simple maneuvers are impossible. And if you don't have the right card, you can't even attack someone right next to you. I understand the cards are to simulate a lack or coordination while ordering troops, but I really think each division should have, at least, a default order, such
as "shoot at enemy".

Luckily, many people on the Geek have added many new and important rules to help the game out - yes, adding some complexity, but entirely necessary. I haven't looked closely at them but they have to be an improvement.
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